Vocational Services

We are a Dorset wide NHS service and work with people with long term health conditions who want to retain their current job, gets back to paid work or find suitable voluntary work.

* Due to Covid-19 measures we are unable to offer Group work and workshops at present however we are finding new ways to deliver our service. Please contact the service on 01202 443100 with your enquiries. We are mainly working remotely however messages are collected regularly and passed to the most appropriate person to answer your enquiry.

Keeping well

If you are physically unwell and concerned you, or someone close to you, has possibly been infected with Covid-19, do start with the NHS website for guidance.

There is a lot of advice appearing, specifically relating to keeping well during this current virus related lockdown. Some of the most useful we have come across are below. Do scroll down – the advice is quite comprehensive, with links varying from home workouts to managing anxiety, sleep and guidance on mindfulness.

This is a useful booklet from Steps 2 Wellbeing

Government Guidance

Dorset Mind

The Royal College of Occupational Therapists has some "Top Tips" for staying well, but also some sound advice on staying well when Social Distancing


This is a very good guide to managing stress (not just during this current situation) :-

Managing Stress Please note you cannot download this, you have to read it online.

Do look at the page on our site - Relaxation and Mindfulness - which has some helpful videos.

Local Helplines

Bournemouth Poole and Christchurch Council have launched a helpline to support isolated people with deliveries of food and other essentials as well as relief from loneliness.

0300 1237052 - Available from 8am to 8pm seven days a week For the rest of Dorset you can call 01305 221000



If you are being “furloughed” this link is worth pursuing:-

Furlough Advice

But do also check the Governments own guidance.



Job Retention/Staying in paid employment

At Vocational Services we offer specialist vocational rehabilitation and work to help people with long term health conditions who are in paid employment and need support to retain or maintain their job. The team of Occupational Therapists are able to support in a variety of settings depending on the needs of the individual i.e workplace, NHS property, individuals home, other community setting. Support is offered to both the employee and employer. Interventions are offered in a variety of settings including the workplace as required.

Some examples of our interventions are as follows:-

  • Assessment of individual’s capacity and workplace requirements. Holistic approach considering the physical, cognitive and psychological demands of the workplace.
  • Rehabilitation to build work skills and confidence to return to/remain in work.
  • Provision of an AHP Advisory Health and Work report, workplace meetings and negotiation of phased return and reasonable adjustments.
  • Ongoing support once back at work for a period of time.
  • Self-management, health education and support to manage long term health condition and stay well at work. Provision of specialist, tailored information, advice and support in line with needs of the individual to get back to work. This could involve a Wellness Action Plan.
  • Guidance and information around Disclosure within the workplace
  • Information on legal rights and responsibilities, such as the Equality Act 2010
  • Support to ‘leave work well’ if not able to continue in current job role.
  • Support with careers advice which may include signposting to other support services.
  • Signposting to services that can support with Benefits

To access our service you need to be referred by a health professional. For further information you can speak to one of the team on 01202 443100.

Exploring Work Options – Paid or Voluntary

Following an initial assessment a treatment/ employment plan is agreed to include the steps that will help on the individual journey back to work whether that be paid work or voluntary. Signposting to other services where appropriate.
Some examples of help available are:-

  • Access to our Functional Workshop with a host of tasks/activities to help with rehabilitation needs of building stamina, building relationships, following instructions, working on set projects as part of a rehab programme.
  • Access to our IT room with access to computers and an office like environment as part of a rehab approach to returning to a work environment.
  • Attendance at a Job Club to help support looking for/preparing for work with a health focus.
  • Support to write effective CV’s, cover letters and applications
  • Interview preparation work to build skills and confidence
  • Attendance at a group Health 4 Work class looking at choosing the right work, adjustments, disclosure, rights and responsibilities and staying well at work.
  • Guidance on Exploring Work Options in line with health needs, necessary adjustments and work/life balance. Exploring individual interests, transferable skills, strengths and experiences to identify employment goal.
  • Help utilizing National and Local Careers Services.
  • Advice and guidance on job sites and voluntary vacancies in local areas.
  • Support to visit local opportunities to determine suitability and help with building confidence.
  • Support when starting paid or voluntary work and regular reviews
  • Exploring Training options
  • Signposting to services that can support with Benefits

Help for you and your employer

If you are in work at the moment and would value some free health support Vocational Services can provide support for both you and your employer. It could be that you are currently off sick due to a long term health condition or you are struggling to keep going at work and fearful about carrying on with work. As an NHS organisation we are independent and impartial and are able to provide support and guidance around your health condition and work role. We could offer support in a variety of ways according to needs and preferences:-

  • Attend meetings with managers and staff to discuss health and adjustments in a positive, helpful way.
  • Returning to work support, including the provision of an AHP Health and Work report, with clear directions around reasonable adjustments and phased return.
  • Workplace assessment looking at environment, relationships and job role/expectations
  • Advice in strategies to manage workload and tasks around health needs.

There are several organisations that can help provide information to both employers and employees on different aspects of the workplace, you may find the following useful.

Refer to Us

Referrals needs to be made through your GP or health professional. They should use this Referral  Form or look at more information here

Dorset HealthCare’s Work Services